• PM seeks allies’ support for e-voting machines
• Takes coalition partners into confidence on spat with ECP
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday sought support of ruling coalition partners for use of electronic voting machines in the 2023 general election and took them into confidence on the government’s stance on the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
However, the prime minister did not take the allies or the federal cabinet into confidence about the government’s ‘agreement’ with the banned Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP). Instead, he barred all cabinet members from commenting on the matter in public.
“The issue of TLP was discussed neither in the coalition partners meeting nor before the federal cabinet,” said Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry while talking to Dawn.
He said the government’s coalition partners had graciously supported the electoral reforms of PM Khan and assured him of taking the agenda forward. “We have put forth our idea of electoral reforms before our coalition partners, including PML-Q and MQM, which will be further briefed on this in near future,” he said.
The prime minister met the coalition partners after chairing a federal cabinet meeting and took them onboard regarding the government’s stance on the ECP in the backdrop of electoral reforms.
“There is a consistent position of the government on electoral system which is needed to be reformed for ensuring free and fair elections and strengthening democracy in the country,” he added.
He said the leaders of government’s allied parties expressed their full confidence in his leadership and policies. “During the meeting, matters relating to overall political and economic situation in the country were discussed,” he added.
Among the coalition partners, member of the National Assembly Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Law Minister Farogh Nasim and Minister for Information Technology Amin-ul-Haq represented the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM); MNA Ghaus Bakhsh Mehr and Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Dr Fehmida Mirza represented Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA); Minister for Water Resources Moonis Elahi represented Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q); Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Quddus Bizenjo and Senator Manzoor Ahmad Khan Kakar represented Balochistan Awami Party (BAP); Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad represented Awami Muslim League-Pakistan (AML-P) and PM’s aide Shahzain Bugti represented Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP).
The government side was represented by Minister for Planning Asad Umar, Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry and PM’s aide Amir Dogar.
“The prime minister during the federal cabinet meeting did not talk about the government-TLP deal. Rather he barred cabinet members from commenting it publically,” Mr Chaudhry disclosed.
The government and the protesting TLP reached an ‘agreement’ to end the impasse after which the TLP vacated Grand Trunk Road and the government released over 800 TLP activists.
Claiming that the TLP did not want to create chaos in the country, the TLP spokesman said all decisions had been made in the best interests of Pakistan and Islam.
Published in Dawn, November 3rd, 2021